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US Northern Command implements further Mexico travel restrictions

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The United States Northern Command reissued a travel directive for Mexico extending the prohibited areas for all active duty and Reserve component personnel May 10.

The U.S. Northern Command released the following statement: Recent violent attacks have prompted the U.S. Embassy in Mexico to urge U.S. citizens to defer unnecessary travel to parts of Mexico including Michoacan and Tamaulipas, to parts of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango and Coahuila and to advise U.S. citizens residing or traveling to those areas to exercise extreme caution. As a prudent measure, the U.S. Northern Command commander has prohibited all non-official travel (Leave and Pass) to the states of Michoacan, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon. Official Department of Defense travel to these areas is limited to mission essential travel only. U.S. Northern Command will continue to assess the situation with respect to the security and safety of U.S. military personnel.

Although not restricted under U.S. Northern Command's latest directive, DOD civilians, DOD dependents and DOD contractors traveling for non-official purposes are strongly urged to abide by all travel prohibitions and advisories.

"We really need to inform the Vandenberg community about the current state of violence in Mexico and that it is just not a safe place for our people to be right now," said Rickie Gable, a 30th Space Wing antiterrorism officer. "Our concern is Vandenberg is only 220 miles away from the Mexico border, and this short distance might tempt some people here to make a weekend trip."

The U.S. Northern Command notes that the crime and violence situation along the U.S. and Mexico border and throughout Mexico is of major concern to both Department of State and DOD personnel. Although much of the violence is related to the Mexican government's effort to combat drug-trafficking organizations, the overall criminal related violence is equally concerning. The location and timing of violent activities and armed engagement cannot be predicted. Bystanders have been killed or injured in cities across the country, demonstrating the heightened risk of violence even in public places.

The rising of violence within Mexico is mainly due to narco-terrorism, which are terrorist acts tied to the trafficking of narcotics. The Air Force has already lost one of its members due to these random acts of violence in Mexico in 2009, and things have not gotten any better there since, said Mr. Gable.

"People need to understand that terrorism can happen to anyone, at anytime and anywhere," Mr. Gable said. "This needs to be in the back of everyone's minds. For military personnel, don't advertise who you are by wearing your uniform off the installation for non-official purposes. Everyone should maintain a strong sense of situational awareness and avoid Mexico travel at all costs. There is nothing down in Mexico that people need to risk their lives and careers for."

For more information regarding Mexico travel or to report any suspicious activity, call the 30th SW antiterrorism office at 606-6579.